Sweet: Pritzker, Uihlein 2 of Illinois’ biggest political donors

SHARE Sweet: Pritzker, Uihlein 2 of Illinois’ biggest political donors

J.B. Pritzker and M.K. Pritzkers |Sun-Times files

WASHINGTON — One of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s mega-backers, Chicago’s J.B. Pritzker, is well positioned to play a role in her presidential administration if, as is likely, she beats Republican Donald Trump on Nov. 8.

With the 2016 election cycle in its concluding days, the Chicago Sun-Times examined the contributions from two jumbo donors from Illinois.

Some gleanings:


J.B. Pritzker is the managing partner of The Pritzker Group and 1871, the Chicago tech incubator, among many other commercial, philanthropic and political ventures. He has been supportive of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their related interests for years.

Best known by his initials, not his full name, Jay Robert, he’s the brother of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The billionaire siblings belongs to one nation’s wealthiest families. In 2008, J.B. was a co-chair of Clinton’s first presidential bid while Penny was President Barack Obama’s finance chair.

J.B. Pritzker has been a contributor and an active participant in the programs of the Clinton Global Initiative. The J.B. and M.K. (his wife) Pritzker Family Foundation has contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Pritzker also is a major giver to the Center for American progress, the think tank founded by Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

And he’s one of Clinton’s top bundlers — people who use their networks to raise money from others for federal candidates. Federal rules limit individual contributions to a candidate’s campaign at $5,400 per primary and general election.

Super PACS backing a candidate do not have donor caps. Pritzker and M.K. are major givers to Priorities USA, the main Clinton Super PAC. Together, they sent some $10 million to the PAC in 2015 and 2016.

Pritzker also contributed $1.25 million to the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee to help pay for costs associated with Clinton’s nominating convention in Philadelphia this summer, according to Federal Election Commission records.

He has a public profile. The other mega Clinton backer from Chicago, business executive Fred Eychaner, stays so far below the radar it would seem less likely that he would take on any Clinton White House role.


In September 2015, I wrote about Richard Uihlein, the Lake Forest executive who, with his wife, Elizabeth, runs the Wisconsin-based Uline products distribution company.

Uihlein at the time had vaulted into the top tiers of political giving, with his money steered to conservative candidates and causes.

Back then, I reported that Uihlein gave $300,000 to launch Restoration, a super PAC founded by former Illinois Senate candidate Doug Truax.

Truax wanted to remain in the game after being defeated by state Sen. Jim Oberweis R-Sugar Grove in the March 2014 GOP Illinois Senate primary.

Doug Truax started the Restoration super PAC. | Sun-Times files

Doug Truax started the Restoration super PAC. | Sun-Times files

Through a series of donations in 2015 and 2016, Uihlein has pumped at least $2.4 million into Restoration.

Restoration has worked to re-elect Sen. Ron Johnson R-Wisc., and now is focused on Colorado.

According to Dan Curry, Truax’s suburban Chicago- based consultant, “our overwhelming financial commitment at the moment is on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn in Colorado. We have produced and aired two TV ads there.”

On Thursday, Restoration reported to the FEC an independent expenditure of $35,000 for digital ads opposing Clinton to run in Illinois. The 2-minute, 36-second video features Truax explaining, as Curry put it, “why electing Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for America.”

Clinton has maintained a strong lead over Trump in Illinois. The spot could also help keep Truax in play in Illinois.


Illinois Democrats reported to the FEC on Thursday an independent expenditure of $221,943 on radio ads to support Clinton in Illinois. Why spend the money since she is so far ahead?

State party spokesman Steve Brown said the spending was to boost turnout.

In other words, turning out the votes for Clinton, who is popular in Illinois, can help down-ballot Democrats.

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